We chose MSC because it looks luxurious inside and we wanted to try something different. We've been on 10+ cruises from one week to 5 weeks each. Unfortunately, this cruise is geared for the German and European markets
Staff at customer services weren't up to date with what was going on on the ship. I find there are certain nationalities who are excellent at customer services. It comes to them naturally and other nationalities need more training. They feel they are above the customer because they are wearing a uniform and whatever they say is final. Went to book an excursion for 6 of us and was told it had been fully booked since before we sailed! So why not take names and add on another coach? Those staff members need more training. They simply shrug their shoulders when they don't know something. There's machines on that floor to register your card to pay for expenses incurred for your cabin. Credit cards are not a problem as all charges automatically go on your card when you leave. Debit cards and cash however they charge an amount immediately and if there's money to be refunded you have to go to customer services and you're refunded in the ship's currency which is euros so beware if you put down cash in sterling.
Tours were very expensive compared to other cruiseliners. In the ports shuttle buses were provided but you had to pay! From€6.90 to€15.60 return per person! So if you can't walk a mile you're stuck onboard in some ports. We got the hop on hop off in several cities to get our bearings and then got off and mooched.
The drinks packages are good. 3 tiers and they include the bottled water. Cocktails were good as was the prosecco so the family were happy.
Dining was fixed seating only at either 6:30 or 8:30 pm. It does give you the chance to get to know your waiters who are exceptional in their attention to detail. Nothing is ever too much trouble. Food was good. Portions smaller than average but you could order two entrees, mains or desserts. Unnecessary as there's always food everywhere. The buffet upstairs was hit and miss because it's divided into sections, the quietest being right at the back but the selection of food is not the same on both sides so you have to go right round 3 sections on both sides to suss out what's there before making your choice. Prime time is hell as usual trying to find a seat and at breakfast you have to ask for a banana at the fruit counter because they hide them behind? Pizza is being made all the time and was fresh and tasty if that's what you like. Lattes and cappuccino were included in the package which was a plus so you can get them in any coffee shop or bar onboard. Extra special Coffee with whipped cream or special syrups are separate. The ice-cream (yummy) was also included in the package and served in several bars.
Maintenance on the ship is good. Crew are onto it all the time. You can see them everyday doing something on the lifeboats, painting the whirlpools and everything looks pristine.
One main gripe would be the announcements over the tannoy. Five languages for every announcement. I know 3 and by the time they got to the Spanish they were rattling it off so fast you could barely understand it. How do other cruiseliners cope with only English??
Films: there aren't any. Big screen on deck is used for advertising. No deck chairs lined up for films, no popcorn! What a waste!
Daily events: dance lessons in a venue that accommodates maybe 15 people and a quiz in five languages and MasterChef at Sea: they ask you 10 questions in 5 languages and then give you the answer in 5 languages. By the time you've reached the 10 the answer you've slid off your seat in exhaustion! Then on the next sea day they get the 6 finalists and ask them to arrange some salad leaves on a plate to be judged by the ship's chefs. This show's format doesn't really adapt itself to at sea since you're on a stage and you can't cook on it (health and safety).
Beautiful theatre, the best I've seen. You can see the stage from wherever you are. Productions were average. Swiss magician very good. Talks were only about ports selling you the excursions. They could have used that theatre for films in all languages. Not one.
Library non existent. It's part of a seating area with one small shelf for English with a handful of books and a few magazines previous customers have obviously left.
So, download books onto your Kindle or stream your films before going. This cruise was Mediterranean and Europe so G4 was available except when out at sea where the ship's mast took over and you went onto maritime satellite network which can crucify you so put your phone on airplane mode when you leave port.
We had a good time because we were a family of grownups and played cards and games for entertainment. Drinks and food were good and we did our own thing on a beautiful ship.
Make of this what you will
We had 3 balcony cabins so they opened up the balcony position so we could be together. The decor in the rooms was rich and bright. No drab colours here. It looks and feels expensive as does all the decor on this ship. For a 2 week cruise there was just enough room in the wardrobe. Safe was the usual. Bathroom as usual, poor water pressure unless you have a shower at 6am or 11 pm. Variable height shower hose and pressure nozzle. Round plexiglass doors and no rust or mildew anywhere! Cupboards to hide away toiletries and shelves.
Desk as per usual with solid square stool instead of chair which is better as it takes up less room and you can put your feet on when sitting on the sofa.
Cabin size average for balcony cabin but 3 seater sofa. The mattress harder than other cruiseliners.
TV on the small side with remote control. 5 channels in German, 4 channels in Italian, one channel only for English, BBC world news. They advertise films which anyone with Netflix or sky has already seen and want to charge€7.50 to watch! So don't advertise TV to English speaking passengers! Certainly no children's entertainment there.
Kettle and Yorkshire tea and coffee was a welcome plus. 2 sockets American flag pin and 2 sockets European round pin on desk panel.
Balcony is definitely smaller than other ships. You cannot put the stool in front of the chair to look straight out to sea. The ship's design is wider at base then narrower hence the narrower balconies. If you look over the railing you look into the promenade deck and the life boats hang over the edge of the promenade so you can't see straight down to the water from the balcony railing.